Posted by: Chris Maloney | June 8, 2013

Is Cupuaçu the Newest Superfood?

Deutsch: Eine geöffnete Cupuacu Frucht

Deutsch: Eine geöffnete Cupuacu Frucht (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It never fails. Just as soon as you’ve gotten the noni/acai/goji berry smoothie perfectly balanced with your chlorophyll/wheat grass mix, along comes another superfood you just have to add in.

What is a health obsessed superfood junkie to do?

Take a deep breath.  Cupuaçu may not be all that hot.

It is an exotic fruit.  Check.

It comes from the Amazon Rainforest.  Check.

It has a cool name that no one can pronounce except the natives that called it basically a big fruit in their native tongue.

So things are looking good.  But it turns out that despite its cool flavor description (pineapple/chocolate anyone?) Cupuaçu has only gotten to the “active biophenols” stage, well shy of even getting an antioxidant count.

It lives in the same family as cocoa, but has ten times less caffeine and theobromine.  So it would fall better under the “really cool fruits to have in your celebrity fruit salad” list rather than the next superfood.

Here’s the abstract on caffeine content:

J Chromatogr Sci. 2007 May-Jun;45(5):273-5.

Determination of theobromine, theophylline, and caffeine in by-products of cupuacu and cacao seeds by high-performance liquid chromatography.


Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche, Area Ambientale ed Agroalimentare, Università degli Studi di Udine, Via Tomadini 30/A, 33100 Udine, Italy.


Theobromine, theophylline, and caffeine are determined simultaneously by a rapid and selective reversed-phase high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) method with UV detection in by-products of cupuacu and cacao seeds. The determination is carried out in the raw and roasted ground cupuacu seeds and in the corresponding powders obtained after pressure treatment. The by-products of both cupuacu seeds and cacao seeds are obtained under the same technological conditions. The HPLC method uses isocratic elution with a mobile phase of methanol-water-acetic acid (80:19:1) (v/v) at a flow rate of 1 mL/min and UV absorbance detection at 275 nm. Total elution time for these analytes is less than 10 min, and the detection limit for all analytes is 0.1 mg/g. The amounts of theobromine and caffeine found in all the cupuacu samples are one or more orders of magnitude lower than those from cacao. Theophylline is found in all cacao samples except for the roasted ground paste, and it is only found in the roasted ground paste in the cupuacu samples.


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